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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gonzo Radio Journalism


"I Could Have Danced All Night"

Radio journalistic reporting is the Cinderella of the news mediums. The difference being is that radio journalism never receives an invitation to the ball. She stays at home doing and redoing her mundane chores which her news media sisters Drizella (print) and Anastasia (video) have pawned off on her. Eventually she sneaks away, crashed the ball and goes about forming a mosh pit during a dreary Vienna Waltz.

The experiences at the ball couldn't be more varied. Drizella doesn't need sound bites or video snippets to flesh out a piece. She paraphrases the main thrusts of the discourse or jots down a catchy quote or two then her work is done as far as reporting the basic tenor of what has just transpired. Of course, writing generalizations about an event is only the canvas on which the paint is applied. Drizella can roam around the ball room; dance and sway and dart in and out conducting interviews and collecting some subjective flavor from the guests. She doesn't schlep any bulky and cumbersome equipment to and fro. Pen/pencil and a notepad and Drizella is on the move. Incidentally, the cliché notepad as depicted in the hard boiled film noir flicks of the 1940's is still standard issue. There must be more than a sentimental or psychological fear of abandonment which keeps the reporters using the antiquated notepad. Come to think of it the legal pad is another relic of tradition. The history of the legal pad reads like a Horatio Alger faerie tale. The hazy legend holds that in the late 1800's a young entrepreneur from Massachusetts came up with the brilliant idea of repackaging junk that was going to be chucked out anyway. The lineage of repackaging garbage and selling it for profit is long. It's as American as cutting up subprime mortgage then reselling them or the grande dame of mystery meat Pink Slime. The modern faerie tale has it that Thomas Holley gathered up subpar scraps and reject pieces of paper from various factories and after stitching them together sold them at ridiculously low prices. As the story goes, around 1900 a judge, whose name has vanished from history, wanted a margin drawn on the lefthand side of the pad. This is the supposed glorious birth of the legal pad. Two things strike me as curious to this portion of the legend. My grasp on Greek mythology is iffy at best. However, the severed and discarded scraps of paper then reemerging as legal pad sounds like a reworking of the fabled birth of Aphrodite. The peculiar details of Aphrodite's birth were that she arose out of the foam after Uranus' wedding tackle had been lopped off and tossed into the sea. One man's junk is another man's treasure; I guess. Interesting that attorneys would adopt the legal pad: an inferior treasure of no obvious allure. Beyond that, the legal pad is odd sized and unmanageable. The legal philosophy, as I see it, is built upon logical and methodical tenets. Why would they grandfather this stillborn notepad into it's arsenal of tools? The mystery cult better know as the ABA.

After harvesting the interviews and double checking the summations of the look and feel of the event Drizella is finished and ready to head back to the castle with her princely one night stand: the scoop.

Anastasia has made sure her entrance to the ball is replete with more splendor and regalia than her sister Drizella. Tripod and camera with boom mic in hand Anastasia takes up a place in a corner of the room with all her jewels and glitter. She starts the camera and like an early 20th century cinematographer and steps back and let's the event unfold. Once she's finished recording and prancing around reaping video quotes and incidental shots of the surroundings she's then poised to step outside. She'll be whisked away by her prince charming astride a 2 tonne moving van with a roof antenna and broadcast dish. The after party begins in the editing room for Drizella. Write a lede in; choose some minute or two video snippet then write a lede out. Anastasia is now so ready for some more action. Maybe she'll be a bit saucy and write a 30 second titillating teaser just because she is that vain.

Ah the life of the party has fooled the doorbitch and skulks her way to the ball room. Cinderella arrives with a journalists survival kit wearing not glass slippers but hand me down Teva's. Her make up is a triumphant mess; from the wrong shade of lipstick with black lip liner to oversized tarantula paste on eyelashes. If she didn't have her mic flag on you'd swear she was an extra stepping off the set of movie “Showgirls”. Drizella and Anastasia dumped on Cinderella the task of amassing usable sound bites even when then the ball has no direct plug in jacks. She can't dart here and there covering the event sliding the mic under each and every person who opens his pie-hole. The logistics of recording good audio in these conditions are like getting the shaving scum out of your fur lined sink (thank you Dali). Cinderella being the clever and resourceful and Gonzo sister relies on ingenuity to get her scoop. Hanging the mic from the rafters. Hanging the mic over a speaker and rejoicing that she was at least able to record in beautiful luxurious mono. Whatever it takes, she is the journalistic floozy at the ball. When the ball has ended and before she scampers off she slithers around the room approaching the guests for a follow up sound bite.

When all is said and done Cinderella is the sister you would most like to take out again for pizza and champagne.

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